More Brutal Treatment of Paul Rudolph’s Architecture

The hardworking staff has previously noted the beleaguered buildings designed by midcentury modernist architect Paul Rudolph, which include two local landmarks: the old Blue Cross Blue Shield building at 133 Federal Street and the Government Service Center.

Now comes the latest assault.

From Michael Kimmelman’s piece in Wednesday’s New York Times:

Landmark’s Last Hope For Rescue

This week, lawmakers in Goshen, N.Y., have a last chance to save an archetype of midcentury modernist architecture — and JPGOSHEN1-articleLargethemselves from going down as reckless stewards of the nation’s heritage.

The plan is to gut Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, strip away much of its distinctive, corrugated concrete and glass exterior and demolish one of its three pavilions, replacing it with a big, soulless glass box. Rudolph, who died in 1997, at 78, was a leading light of American architecture when this building, one of his best and most idealistic, opened nearly half a century ago. Like Rudolph, the center suffered abuse over the years but is now being championed by new fans that recognize his genius, and the latest plan as vandalism.

Then again, not everyone is a fan, as Julie V. Iovine notes in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.

Not Easy to Love

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Controversy has always surrounded the Orange County Government Center, a monumental complex 50 miles northwest of New York City. It was designed in 1966 in the Brutalist style by Paul Rudolph, the celebrated modern architect who studied with Walter Gropius and was chairman of the Yale School of Architecture from 1958 to 1965. But that simmering controversy has now come to a boil.

A plan is at the ready to alter beyond recognition the provocative-looking complex of three fluted-concrete buildings—made of stacked, extruded volumes with wall-size, eyelike windows suggesting a giant robotic insect.

Even more robotic is Steven Neuhaus, the Orange County executive who, Kimmelman says, “seems hell-bent on demolition” and has vetoed the possibility of a sale to Gene Kaufman, described by the Journal as “a New York architect who wanted to buy the complex and turn it into artists’ studios.”

The state legislature had until yesterday to override that veto. We’re guessing, sadly, it didn’t.

(Sadly, we guessed right.)

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Tom Mashberg Is Still Trying to Catch a Thief

From our Late to the Search Party desk

Former Boston Herald reporter Tom Mashberg has chased the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art snatch from March of 1990 to, well, three days ago.

From Sunday’s New York Times Arts section:

Still Missing After All These Years

Retracing the long trail back to the 1990 Gardner heist

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BOSTON — The hallway in the Brooklyn warehouse was dark, the space cramped. But soon there was a flashlight beam, and I was staring at one of the most sought-after stolen masterpieces in the world: Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee.”

Or was I?

My tour guide that night in August 1997 was a rogue antiques dealer who had been under surveillance by the F.B.I. for asserting he could secure return of the painting — for a $5 million reward. I was a reporter at The Boston Herald, consumed like many people before me and since with finding the “Storm,” a seascape with Jesus and the Apostles, and 12 other works, including a Vermeer and a Manet, stolen in March 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a cherished institution here.

The theft was big news then and remains so today as it nears its 25th anniversary. The stolen works are valued at $500 million, making the robbery the largest art theft in American history.

What follows is Mashberg’s long tale of chasing leads down blind alleys, coming agonizingly close (think: paint chips), and largely getting blown off by the self-styled “experts.”

I wrote a front-page article about the furtive unveiling for The Herald — with a headline that bellowed “We’ve Seen It!” — and 01GARDNER2-master180stood by for the happy ending.

It never came. Negotiations between investigators and the supposed art-nappers crumbled amid dislike and suspicion. Gardner officials did not dismiss my “viewing” out of hand, but the federal agents in charge back then portrayed me as a dupe. Eighteen years later, I still wonder whether what I saw that night was a masterpiece or a masterly effort to con an eager reporter.

From there, the story just gets more tangled. It’s well worth the read.

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NYT Op-It Girl Becomes Maureen Dawdle

Six months ago New York Times Op-It Girl Maureen Dowd got a new gig at the Grey Lady.

Via Politico’s Dylan Byers:

Maureen Dowd joins N.Y. Times Magazine

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is joining the New York Times Magazine as a “narrative journalist,” the paper announced Monday.

Dowd will continue to write a column for the Times Opinion page each Sunday, as well as write narrative pieces for the Times Magazine.

Except . . . she hasn’t.

As far as we can tell, Dowd has yet to file for the Times Magazine.

We couldn’t find her in the gala relaunch. And the Times website lists only these Opinion pieces as Dowd’s latest contributions.

 

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So what’s the holdup, MoDo?

Writer’s blech?

Or what?

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NYT’s Alessandra Stanley Just Doesn’t Get ‘House of Cards’

The Netflix cash cow House of Cards is back, to a much bruited review by New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley.

‘House of Cards’ Season 3: More Policy Than Chicanery

“House of Cards” began as a fun-house-mirror reflection of Washington, an outlandish sendup decked out in the pinstripes-and-Prada props of real-life politics. This Netflix series about a conniving congressman wasn’t realistic, but it was sly and 26house-articleLargeknowing enough to pass as a naughty behind-the-scenes peek at government.

Fittingly enough, the first several episodes of Season 3 are weighed down with the same burden that bedevils real politicians when they come to power: After all the campaign high jinks and maneuvering come to an end, it’s time to actually govern.

And policy is not nearly as sexy and exciting. As a result, the series, whose new episodes all [debuted last Friday], gets off to a surprisingly sluggish start.

The Missus and I respectfully disagree – at least based on Episode 1, which we watched last night.

It was pretty much the House of Doug – Doug Stamper, the Dickensian-named Number One Thug for Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood, who is now the Most Powerful Man on the Face of the Earth. In the Season 2 finale, Stamper got stoned by Underwood’s loose end Rachel Posner, and he spends the first half of Episode 1 of Season 3 in excruciating rehab, only to be blown off by Underwood when he finally gets an audience with the president.

From Erin Keane’s excellent Salon piece:

Doug, gutted over disastrous reactions to Underwood’s “America Works” program, knows that only he can help fix Frank’s sinking political ship. He is so determined to get to a meeting with Frank as soon as possible that he ignores his body’s signals, attempts to shower without assistance and falls, breaking his arm. That would be enough to make a lesser character say fuck it, let’s go work for a law firm. But when Doug Stamper splinted his broken arm on the kitchen counter with duct tape and a wooden spoon and hobbled, shattered in body and heart, to that meeting and reported for duty, I thought finally, this show understands love.

Sadly, Frank Underwood does not.

Neither, apparently, does Alessandra Stanley. From her Times piece:

Eventually, a bullying Russian president enters the mix (interestingly, two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot also make an appearance), challengers emerge for the next campaign cycle, and “House of Cards” gets back to a livelier tempo of chicanery and double-dealing. But it’s a punishing wait.

Memo to Ms. Stanley: Chicanery and double-dealing are exactly what Underwood rewarded Doug Stamper with.

And that’s real punishment.

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Red Sox Great Pedro Martinez Moves to New York

Pedro Martinez will wear a Boston Red Sox cap in his Hall of Fame plaque, but that doesn’t mean he’s abandoning New York, where he played for the Mets after the Yankees folded like origami in 2004.

From the Albany Times-Union Capitol Confidential:

Red Sox, Mets great Pedro Martinez honored by Legislature

Pedro Martinez traded in his Major League uniform for a baby blue plaid suit Thursday as he was honored at the Capitol by the pedro1-306x217Legislature for his on-field accomplishments and his contributions to the Dominican community.

Martinez, who was a part of Boston’s 2004 World Series-winning club and called Queens home a year later as a member of the Mets, was honored with a pair of resolutions in both the Assembly and Senate and a string of laudatory statements by Mets, Sox and, yes, many Yankee fans as he stood on the sidelines with a broad smile that did not fade.

Hey – why should it?

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Burying the Lede (NYT Cherry King Edition)

First in what we expect will be a long series

This piece by Vivian Yee ran in Thursday’s New York Times.

 

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Except . . .

Here’s the headline that appeared in the New England (and early?) edition:

Marijuana Farm Found

At a Cherry Business

The text of the two versions is identical. So both pieces bury the lede. But one cremates it in the headline.

Not to get technical about it.

Contrast that with Wednesday’s New York Daily News front page.

 

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So, to recap: The New York Times is once again a day late and a dolor short.

Ouch.

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Stupidest. Fashion. Ad. Ever.

From Sunday’s New York Times Styles section.

 

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For the literati-impaired, that’s 80-year-old Joan Didion, a minor 20th Century American author best known for her collection of essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

Several questions for the fine folks at Céline:

1) What the hell are you thinking?

2) How many readers of the Times do you think will recognize Didion?

3) How many of them will give a damn she’s in a Céline ad?

So, to recap:

A high-end retailer uses a low-recognition author to promote an image that might – or might not – resonate with the over-80 set. (Not that there’s anything wrong with them.)

But in the New York Times? On Sunday? At those advertising rates?

To us, that’s Slouching Towards Bellevue.

Sixth floor, psychiatric ward.

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Dead Blogging ‘Grounded’ at Central Square Theater

Well the Missus and I trundled over to Central Square to catch the Nora Theatre Company production of Grounded and man, it was fabulous.

A hot-shot fighter pilot’s career in the skies, “alone in the blue,” is ended by an unexpected pregnancy. Reassigned to a windowless Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.46.40 AMtrailer in the desert outside Las Vegas, by day, she hunts down terrorists, her face lit by the dull grey glow of a drone’s monitor. At night, she returns to her domestic life with husband and daughter. As she tracks a high-profile target half a world away, the pressure mounts.

It’s a total tour de chair force, depicting what it’s like for drone pilots to go to war all day and then go home at night. (The history of military combat is a history of increasing distance from the actual killing field – think trench warfare to the London blitz – but never before has combat included going home for dinner.)

George Brant’s 90-minute monologue is strikingly delivered by Celeste Oliva (Boston Globe profile here), who absolutely owns the stage for every second of this haunting production (directed by Nora Theatre Company Artistic Director Lee Mikeska Gardner).

All we could say when the play ended was . . . Wow.

It’s there though March 22.

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The Atlantic Says Bay State (Hearts) Charlie Baker

Snow kidding: The current issue of The Atlantic features this piece by Molly Ball.

The Bluest Republican

Why staunchly Democratic Massachusetts loves its new GOP governor

“Mark Wahlberg is asking me for a pardon?,” Charlie Baker said as he folded his lengthy frame into the backseat of a black SUV one evening in December. Until his election as governor oflead Massachusetts the month before, the only elected office achieved by Baker, a Republican, had been selectman of Swampscott (population 13,800), a position he held for a single term. He had also spent nearly eight years as a state-cabinet official in the 1990s. But some responsibilities, Baker was discovering, accrue only to the chief executive. Informed by an aide that the actor was seeking to have a decades-old assault conviction expunged from his record, Baker turned to me and said drily, “He seems to have overcome that” . . .

Kinda-nuts graf:

As I followed Baker around Boston, I kept coming across Democrats who raved about their governor-to-be. Early in the evening—before Baker was presented with Mark Wahlberg’s pardon request—I watched as he was interviewed onstage at a business forum sponsored by The Boston Globe, before a crowd of Boston’s movers and shakers. Vivien Li, a nonprofit administrator who had worked under Governor Michael Dukakis, told me she believed Baker had exceptional expertise in state government.

Uh-huh. Tell that to these folks, pictured under the MassLive headline, “Massachusetts Senate reluctantly passes Gov. Charlie Baker’s transportation funding cuts.”

 

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(To be fair graf goes here.)

To be fair, Baker can’t be held accountable for the MBTA’s mismanagement over the past 20 years. But he’s certainly mismanaged the past 20 days. And for that, Massachusetts certainly does not love its new GOP governor.

(To be sure graf goes here.)

To be sure, Bay Staters are willing to give Baker a bit of breathing room. From the new WBUR poll:

While only 5 percent of Boston area residents say Gov. Charlie Baker is most responsible for the troubles with the MBTA this winter, 81 percent of those polled say addressing the T’s problems ought to be a “major priority” for his administration going forward.
“When you have an issue that is sort of stirring up this much passion and so many people saying it should be a major priority, it’s something that you can’t afford to ignore for very long,” said Steve Koczela, president of The MassINC Polling Group, which conducted this survey of 505 Boston area voters for WBUR between Feb. 12 and Feb 15.

But at a press conference last week, the governor dodged responsibility.

“I don’t have any direct authority over the MBTA at all,” Baker said. “I have one seat on the board.”

That’s one more seat than most people have on the T, Charlie. Better get movin’.

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Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: What the-!

Well the Missus and I watched the doggies at the 139th Westminster Kennel Club Show the past two nights and say, it was swell.

But we never expected it to be.

For starters, we couldn’t stand half of the seven finalists. The favorite, a Portuguese water dog named Matisse, just seemed kind of creepy.

 

GCh-Claircreek-Impression-De-Matisse

 

Then there was the simpering shih tzu “Rocket,” owned by Patricia Hearst-Shaw (yes, as the announcers said, that Patty Hearst).

 

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And, of course, the ever repulsive French poodle.

 

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But, against all odds . . .

The beagle won!

From Richard Sandomir’s New York Times piece:

A Regal Beagle Seizes the Spotlight

At Westminster Dog Show, Miss P, a Beagle, Wins Best in Show

It took 20 minutes for David Merriam, the Best in Show judge at the Westminster Kennel Club Show on Tuesday, to give the dog-loving audience at Madison Square Garden a bit of a shock. After a devilishly long route to making up his mind — he seemed to enjoy building the suspense, smiling a bit impishly as he WESTMINSTER-2-articleLargedeliberated — he made the surprising choice of Miss P, a 15-inch beagle and the grandniece of Uno, the first beagle to ever win the big show, in 2008.

Merriam, a retired, white-haired California trial judge, ignored the crowd’s favorite, Swagger, an Old English sheepdog, and two other dogs who were believed to be likelier winners than the nearly 4-year-old Miss P: a Skye terrier named Charlie and a Portuguese water dog with the artistic sobriquet of Matisse. Merry Miss P was not the name on everybody’s snout.

Yesminster!

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